python SimpleHTTPServer + OpenLayers testing

OpenLayers testing for new users was always felt a bit odd at things like code sprints: because the OpenLayers tests use XMLHttpRequest, Popup windows, and the like, there was always an issue of a few tests that would fail outside of being run on an HTTP server. For a product where almost all the tests pass just fine without it, I always found it sort of annoying that a few minor XMLHttpRequest restrictions forced me to shell out to a server.

This weekend, as I was helping at the OpenHatch Open Source workshop at RPI, I found myself in a position where a new developer was running the tests, and asking me why they failed. I was pointing out that in order for them to pass, they’d have to be run from a webserver, and someone else in the room helpfully pointed out that if you have Python installed, you have a webserver available to you with just one line of code.

“What?” I said, incredulously. I mean, I believed them — in the same way that python -mjson.tool has become a daily part of my life, I’m not entirely surprised by Python modules offering useful command line interactions that help make my life easier. Still, this was a new one to me.

“Sure”, came the reply. “Just use python -m SimpleHTTPServer in the directory you want to serve.”

And I `cd`’d into the root of my OpenLayers checkout, and typed python -m SimpleHTTPServer, and went to http://localhost:8000/tests/run-tests.html — and ‘lo, the tests did pass, and the developer did say it was Good.

(I probably learned more tips and tricks in the two day workshop about git, and other helpful tools, than I do in a week of doing my own development. Kids these days, teaching me new things!)

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